If you’ve searched for small-business grants, you know it isn’t simple…or easy. Between complicated databases, out-of-date websites, and unexpected fees for service, grants can be very hard to locate. Further, many target a very specific population, which isn’t always immediately apparent. Of course, grants aren’t always free, either, in that there are strings attached (such as, how exactly the money can be spent).
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Below are some current websites to aid in your search, hopefully making it a little less painless:
Federal Small-Business Grants:
Federal government grants are often highly specific, but offer funds to a wide range of industries and business types. Applications can be lengthy and complicated, but as a grant is essentially “free” money, you are well-compensated for the time invested.
- Grants.gov – This extremely comprehensive grant database covers a variety of government agencies, providing a wide range of opportunities. To make sure you find the most relevant grants, click the Search Grants tab on the home page, select Grant under Funding Instrument Type, then Small business under Eligibility.
- SBA.gov – The U.S. Small Business Administration offers two grant programs for businesses who are engaged in scientific research and development and have a high potential for commercialization. The programs help connect existing small businesses, universities and research centers with federal grants and contracts from 12 government agencies.
State and Regional Small-Business Grants
State and regional grants often have less competition as they can be more specific with qualifications and pull from a smaller population in general.
- Economic Development Agencies – Each state’s agency can point you to state or regional grant opportunities, as well as securing a location and recruiting employees.
- Small Business Development Centers – While these centers are not typically focused on finding sources of funding, there’s a good chance that their advisors will know of opportunities that you may qualify for. In general, SBDC provides owners of small businesses, both new and established, with free consulting services.
Corporate Small-Business Grants
Many corporations and organizations offer small business grants as a philanthropic component to their business. Some require applicants to be a member, so be sure to check eligibility requirements and weigh the pros and cons of becoming in compliance. Keep in mind that often these are awarded on an annual basis, so you will want to be sure to can get everything dialed-in in time for the deadline.
- FedEx Small Business Grant – During this annual grant competition, FedEx awards 10 small businesses with grants of up to $25,000 and FedEx office supplies up to $7,500.
- Miller Lite Tap the Future – In this annual live-pitch competition, 25 businesses pitch in front of judges in five major US cities for a chance to win $20,000. The winner from each location will go to the national competition for a chance to win a $100,000 grand prize.
- NASE Growth Grants – The National Association for the Self-Employed offers monthly $4,000 grants to small businesses with broad allowance for how it’s spent. You must be a NASE member to apply.
- LendingTree – LendingTree offers a $50,000 grant once per year to help small businesses that are having trouble scaling. They also offer advice for successful grant applications.
Small-Business Grants for Specific Communities
Many organizations focus their funding efforts on specific communities. Below are a few examples, but there’s a world of specialty grants to be found with some exploration.
- InnovateHER Challenge – The U.S. Small Business Administration hosts an annual competition for “innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families.”
- Amber Grant – WomensNet awards $500 to a different women-owned business every month. At the end of each year, one of the 12 grant winners is awarded an additional $2,000.
- Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grants – The women’s clothing retailer awards up to 10 women business owners a total of $100,000 each year.
- Veteran Small Business Award – Provided by StreetShares Foundation, this award of up to $5,000 is open to applicants that are veterans or spouses of veterans.
Clearly, there are many opportunities out there for small-business grant funding. Regardless of your business type or your funding needs, with some determination you’re bound to find some grants you qualify for. Best of luck!